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Why is America so disinterested in racing?

Sep 15, 2016
615
Catalina 22 Minnesota
So I am hearing a few common themes among sailors. First is the cost and second the disconnect from the technology. As for the youth excitement and fun racing have always been around (Hobie's etc.) if there is an interest. In sticking more with the original question could someone expand on the cost and technology issues? If its cost well then why the excitement over watching auto racing . I may watch It occasionally but never do I plan to go out and purchase a professional race car or drag car. I loved topgear when they reviewed sports cars but never will i spend 3/4 million on a car. I do appreciate the trickle down technology in tires and handling though. As to the technology being more advanced; with more boats like the UFO coming out foiling may be more commonplace than we think (like the Hobie's of old). Even if it does not; the technology for race tracking, autopilots, sail technologies, etc. all have their trickle down effects. Shoot I have radial cut non composite sails for my boat currently. That is a technology that a decade ago would have been thought impossible. Yet because of the longer ocean races and things we have pushed technology for fabric to make it happen. It does take big money to develop the technology at first before it can become affordable for the little guy like me. So if we do benefit from these things why the lack of interest in seeing how they are developed on the race course?
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,874
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
NO @justsomeguy
  • Lead defined as... : to guide on a way especially by going in advance
  • Leaden defined as... : lacking spirit or animation
He means to Lead. To provide guidance which in order to introduce kids to the idea of sailing, will be needed.
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,874
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
There is an abundance of racing in our American culture. Your query is about sailing. Where two sail boats go there is a race, even if the other boat does not know it. We are a competitive culture.

In order to develop racing activities, we need to have sailors. To get sailors we need to develop youth programs. To create such programs and to advance the skills in the programs we need to invest in boats.

In the past this was accomplished through schools run by yacht clubs. Yacht clubs were seen as places of elite membership.

The challenges to your query go on and on. It is just plain easier to enroll kids in city soccer teams, or Pee Wee football, basketball, swimming, dance, etc.

There are so many options. Sailing is way down on the opportunity list with someone needing to finance the boats.

Then once you get the program going you now face the money competition. Boats are not all created equal. Faster boats, lighter boats, newer sails win more frequently than older heavier boats with blown out sails so often found in generic boating clubs. This is the same for all vehicle competitions. Look at snowmobile racing. It is not the old tired grandpa's buzz the farmers field snowmobile that wins the championships.

I guess if a person won the lottery and could buy and outfit a sailing fleet of one design boats it may be possible to encourage the average child in a town near water to take up sail boat racing. But then the question would be why sailing, not golf or tennis. After all if you become a star at one of those activities you might have a chance at some real money not just a trophy.
 
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Feb 20, 2011
7,775
Island Packet 35 Tucson, AZ/San Carlos, MX
NO @justsomeguy
  • Lead defined as... : to guide on a way especially by going in advance
  • Leaden defined as... : lacking spirit or animation
He means to Lead. To provide guidance which in order to introduce kids to the idea of sailing, will be needed.
I know what @jon hansen meant, but spellcheck failed him. "Led" was the word he needed.
Not "lead" or my term "leaden" which also means made of lead.
Thus the wink I gave him in my reply. :wink3:
 
May 25, 2012
3,809
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
well, i can't spell and i can't type ........

..... now back to building my next model airplane
 
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Sep 15, 2016
615
Catalina 22 Minnesota
My whole family races my dad and grandpa raced before me hope to get a melges next but just bought a Santana to start racing in March
Mine too I can't wait to get back out there this year hopefully to nationals again. The kids are a bit older than a few years ago when we were last there but it sure was fun and everyone took home a prize! We may not be a speed demon but we do well enough.

IMG_5824.JPG

That's why I ask the question on the disinterest in racing. I did not race when I first learned to sail but now it is fantastic. It keeps the kids interested and not on some electronic device in the cabin while we sail and opens their eyes to a larger world. Just the idea that I can be in my office eating a sandwich for lunch checking on a global race on the other side of the world is amazing and fun to follow. America's cup is the edge of the envelope. Ocean racing is closer to what we would expect but both have their place. Like Nascar and NHRA both have their place. Being able to sit down with my son after supper and watch the recap of some racing in the evening keeps us thinking and looking for ways to improve our own skills. Even the large foliers have tactics in the way the approach the race course. They just do it at Mach 1.
 
Nov 21, 2012
277
Yamaha 33 Port Ludlow, WA
Thought experiment here...the winner of this year's Cup declares that the boat for 2024 will be a Laser.;)

Might shake things up a bit and be good for the sport. Not so much for the engineers.
 

BarryL

.
May 21, 2004
827
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409 Mt. Sinai, NY
Hello,

Personally I really enjoy sailboat racing. I race casually on my boat and more seriously on a friend's boat.

How I put this gently?

SAILBOAT RACING IS NOT FOR NORMAL PEOPLE.

Admit it.

What normal person would find 'racing' in 5 kts fun? You may be out on a typical weeknight race that takes an hour or two. In light air you must admit it is not very exciting. Then if it's blowing, say over 20, it can be scary and dangerous. It can be very hot in the summer, pouring rain, or dark and cold (especially on distance races).

On a typical racing boat there are 4-6 people. If you are a headsail trimmer MOST of time you do nothing except sit where the captain tells you. Every once in a while you have frantic effort to tack the sail. Then it's back to sitting. Sure, downwind there is the spinnaker to set, trim and dice. Except that in light air everything must be done super smoothly and slowly.

That my friends is why sail boat racing is not very popular in the USA. Watching a race? BORING. I try to watch races but I always fall asleep.

Now, when the conditions are just right, say 10 kts of wind, and moderate temperatures, just about ANYONE would enjoy sailboat racing. Unfortunately (at least around here) we don't get those conditions too often.

It takes a special person to understand and enjoy sailboat racing. The enjoyment you get when you can trim the sail just right so that your boat is outpointing the competition, and with good boat speed too. The satisfaction you get when you recognize a wind shift before the rest of the fleet and take advantage of it to get to the windward mark first. The simple thrill of a well done tack, when everyone does their job correctly and the boat barely slows down.

Personally, one of the reasons I really like sailboat racing is that a team of old (50+) guys can be competitive against anyone. Where the strategy is at least as important as the actual sail maneuvers. Where (on a good boat) everyone gets to contribute on tactics and observations. And oh yeah, there are good parties after the big regattas.

Barry
 
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Oct 26, 2008
4,995
Catalina 320 Barnegat, NJ
Hello,

Personally I really enjoy sailboat racing. I race casually on my boat and more seriously on a friend's boat.

How I put this gently?

SAILBOAT RACING IS NOT FOR NORMAL PEOPLE.

Admit it.
Perfectly said ... I'm going to admit that I really don't have the foggiest idea why the popularity of sailboat racing seems to be on the decline in America but I have a few guesses.

I think we live in an age of "we want it all". Too many of us spread ourselves thin financially with the breadth and variety of our wants and supposed needs and we find that we are working so many hours to finance our lifestyle choices and we leave fewer hours for recreation. Compound that with the rising costs of sailboat racing. I think in the past, our parents tended to live more economically and structure their finances to have enough for more selective interests. I also think in the past that our parents (or more likely our father) dedicated more recreational time to a specific activity (rather than a wide range of pursuits) and if they sailed, many more of them raced on a much more economical budget.

I think that now, there are far fewer people with a general interest in sailboat racing and much smaller number of enthusiasts whom are dedicated and devoting larger relative amounts of money towards it. And I still think it's all about the time. Far fewer people are able or willing to devote a bulk of their free time to one single pursuit, when there are so many competing obligations and interests.

I'll also put it tentatively out there ... :huh: it's about the women. In the past, I think men were far more selfish with their time. I know I was at one point in my life. We did what we wanted to do and our women just had no choice except to tolerate it. It's entirely different now. Let's not pretend that in the past, sailboat racing wasn't a male-dominant activity. Of course that's not what we desire and we know that women are equally capable. We love to see women succeed in every aspect of life and I'm assuming that we would all be very happy to see the ranks of women sailors (and sailboat racers in particular) grow exponentially. Let me put it this way ... if Sue wanted to race our sailboat on a weekday evening each week and every weekend, I would be doing my absolute best to see that it happens. I'm working ever so gently to encourage that spark of interest, but it is a very delicate matter. It's hard enough just dedicating time to sailing in general.
 
Nov 26, 2012
1,520
Hunter 34 Berkeley
Outdoor activities in general have been declining cause of the internet and technology. As for spectator sports, racing ain't that great in my opinion. For watching sports on TV football rules.
 
Oct 26, 2008
4,995
Catalina 320 Barnegat, NJ
I pretty much reject the notion that the decline of interest in sailing and/or sailboat racing is based on internet, technology and a general tendency towards poor health choices. In fact, I think it is the opposite. The internet and technology has opened up new worlds of interest in all kinds of outdoor sports and activities. Technology has provided an avalanche of information to so many people, and the ranks of outdoor enthusiasts have grown significantly. Just this past winter, back country skiing has exploded and resort skiing was swamped with interest. The variety and participation in adventure sports has exploded. I also think there is an explosion of interest in healthy lifestyles. Slugs who are confined to couches getting drunk and eating junk food are relics from the past based on my observations. And I think the interest in internet gaming has limited appeal and will eventually decline.

That is why lack of interest in sailing is bewildering to me. I think it could be more of a economic and time availability issue. It also could be that sailing has just lacked some of the appeal among folks who want more radical stimulation. But I also think it could be cyclical. I see signs that younger people are discovering the appeal of sailing. There is the element of peace, freedom, ecological responsibility that is also very appealing to people these days. I predict a rebound. Just last year, the market for used sailboats seemed to favor the seller as demand inexplicably exploded. Perhaps the new freedoms that people are experiencing, i.e. escape from the office by working from laptop, are going to open doors to sailing.
 
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